What’s this, yet another cash-in on a licensed property for the NES? What, it wasn’t bad enough that we had to endure the likes of Jaws, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Back to the Future, but now even the beloved Addam’s Family is subjected to the inevitable mediocrity that befalls almost all games based on movies and TV? Not so fast! While not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, Fester’s Quest manages to carve out a niche that any masochist should enjoy. I hope you’ve been doing your thumb exercises, because this game’s a workout!
One of my favorite games last year was the amazingly brilliant Blaster Master from Sunsoft. Those that have played the game will remember that it was basically split into two parts: side-scrolling platforming and shooting while in the tank and overhead ¾ view shooting sections. The developers decided to ditch the side-scrolling sections and focus on the overhead presentation for Fester’s Quest. The majority of the game takes place in this viewpoint, with you playing as the quirky Uncle Fester from The Addam’s Family. The game’s premise is as wacky as its characters, with an alien UFO invading the city while Uncle Fester was out moonbathing (don’t ask). So naturally he grabs his gun (what that’s not cannon enough for you?) and sets out to blast the aliens to smithereens while rescuing a few townsfolk along the way. You know, just another average day in the neighborhood.
Fester’s Quest is an adventure game that places a heavy emphasis on the action. You’ll come across countless alien life forms that must be destroyed. There really aren’t a ton of enemies to discover, but what the game lacks in quality it more makes up for in quantity. Waves and waves of enemies are constantly on the prowl ready to attack you and if you move the screen just a tiny bit in any direction and then go back they reappear once again, must to my dismay. You can upgrade your gun and whip (you’ll get that early on) so they become more powerful by collecting power-ups that the enemies leave behind. The problem is that the various monsters are venerable bullet sponges. It takes multiple hits to kill even the lowest of the lowlife. Trust me when I tell you that you absolutely need a controller with turbo functionality to play this game. Don’t even attempt to go through this game with the standard NES controllers or your thumb will probably fall off by the end.
As you explore the neighborhood you’ll come across different buildings and houses. It’s here that you’ll often find another member of the Addam’s Family that will often offer up some sort of helpful items. Some of these will require a special key to gain access, which you’ll have to find. Other items can help offensively, such as the Missile (kills multiple enemies at once) or the Noose, which summons Lurch and destroys all of the enemies on the screen! Defensive items like the Potion will regain health or the Vice Grip will increase your speed. Money can be used to purchase health from various hot dog stands scattered about the world.
In addition to the overworld, there are underground passages through places like the sewers that you must traverse to complete the game. You’ll even go into 3D hallways that are enemy free but are sort of labyrinthine in nature, making it easy to get turned around and lost. I would have liked to see more variety in the environments, but it was still entertaining to poke around the city.
Graphically the game is a mixed bag. I really liked the overworld segments, with hedges of trees and streets and sidewalks. The sewers were pretty drab and didn’t have much to offer in the wow department. Enemies for the most part (aside from bosses) were pretty small and there was a ton of flicker throughout.
The soundtrack fares better with some really creepy tunes emanating from the TV. The iconic TV theme song is replicated with great success here and the original tunes scattered throughout all sound great. It’s clear that Sunsoft really knows how to make the NES sound chip sing, but I would have liked more tracks as listening to the same few got old after a couple hours.
By far the biggest strike against Fester’s Quest is its difficulty. There are hard games and then there is Fester’s Quest, which is sure to challenge even the most professional of game pros out there. The game relentlessly throws tons of enemies your way and just never lets up. The bosses are a pain in the rear and the ability to accidentally downgrade your gun and whip by picking up power-downs is just one more irritating aspect.
Fester’s Quest isn’t as bad as some other games based on TV and movies, but it’s still not great. There is a skeleton of a good game here that is utterly hampered by the insane difficulty and monotonous repetition of shooting the same enemies over and over again. If it weren’t for the fact that I like quirky games and appreciate a good soundtrack, this one would have been easy to pass up. However, I think there’s some fun to be had here for the right type of gamer. Just don’t forget that turbo controller!
Fester's Quest Review
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 8.5/108.5/10
- Gameplay - 5/105/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
Fester’s Quest is better than some of the other tripe we’ve had to put up with when it comes to licensed properties. That being said, this game is super difficult and nearly impossible without a turbo function on your controller. It’s worth considering if you like quirky games combined with a heavy dose of repetitious shooting.